Good Mood Food 1-5

Good Mood Food 1-5: Foods Proven to Improve Mood

Good Mood Food

Would you believe that some foods have been scientifically proven to improve your mood? It’s true, adding a few simple key ingredients into your everyday routine can essentially make you happier! There are actually more than just a few but we’ll start by reviewing Good Mood Food one through five.

Vitamin depletion can cause a bad mood because vitamins play a key role in many brain (and body) functions. Regulating that level can change your outlook. Some doctors even recommend vitamin supplementation for patients experiencing anxiety and/or depression. As a Registered Dietitian, I’d definitely recommend food first to achieve adequate vitamin and mineral intake. A well-balanced diet is always a good way to go and more isn’t necessarily always better but including these five foods regularly may make all the difference in your attitude.

Improved mental health has been linked to some diet patterns, specifically The Mediterranean Diet. Moreover, research remains underway regarding the gut brain axis, a communication system between our gut and brain. We are starting to see a significant correlation between the gut microbiome and our brain! Some foods benefit our gut more than others which, in turn, can benefit our brain.

At the end of this article check out my recipe that combines all 5 Good Mood Foods!

So.. what can we add to our plates to put us in a better mood daily?

Good Mood Food #1: Salmon

Salmon is a popular fish best known for containing the “good kind of fat”- omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). PUFAs are essential fats, which means our body does not make them naturally- we need to consume adequate amounts from diet or supplementation. Research has shown after PUFA supplementation, individuals not taking antidepressants showed improved mood and decreased symptoms of depression. Omega 3s are a type of PUFA, along with omega 6. Research has found that low levels of omega 3 fatty acid intake can contribute to depression and anxiety.

Fish contain two types of omega 3 fats: EPA and DHA. Low fish consumption has been linked to depression in various European studies. Interestingly enough, countries that typically consume less fish have increased depression rates. Omega 3s share the biological mechanisms of anti-inflammation and neuroplasticity with current antidepressant agents. Increased levels can potentially improve stress and PTSD symptoms. Omega 3s are essential fats and essential to include in your diet.

In addition, salmon is a good source of vitamin D, providing greater than 100% of the recommended dietary intake. There is a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and increased depression and mood disorders. Smoked, grilled, baked, or raw salmon is packed with omega 3s, vitamin D, plus numerous other nutrients. This tasty fish can maybe even improve your mood.

Not a fish person? No big deal, we can also find omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in Good Mood Food #2.

Good Mood Food #2: Avocados

Avocados also contain omega 3s and have been shown to increase happiness. Unlike salmon, they provide a different type of omega 3: linolenic acid. This fruit (yes, fruit) offers choline which can increase serotonin- the happiness hormone. The folate content can reduce anxiety and promote mental wellness. Inadequate folate intake can lead to fatigue and decreased levels of serotonin.

Avocados contain B vitamins. There is a correlation between some B vitamins deficiencies and decreased mood and depression. Avocados also provide fiber; a Japanese study found that increased fiber from fruits and vegetables results in decreased depressive symptoms. Avocado benefits seem endless and can be the perfect addition to any sandwich, salad, or many other creations.

Good Mood Food #3: Brown Rice

As stated above, recent research is showing a strong connection between gut health and the brain. Brown rice is full of fiber which is optimal for normal digestion and gut health. Fiber can influence the makeup of the intestinal microflora. The bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract can communicate with the central nervous system-our brain and spinal cord. The central nervous system is directly related to thoughts and mood. Fiber is essential for a diverse, healthy gut and dietary fiber intake is a marker for other nutrients that can potentially influence behavior.  There are many fiber supplements on the market; however, a study found that when male college athletes began using fiber supplements, anger and hostility increased. Meeting fiber needs through food intake is the optimal way to go!

Brown rice also provides a few B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc. There is a correlation between vitamin B deficiency and declining brain function and depression. Brown rice is especially a good source of B6, which is essential for neurotransmitter synthesis and has been shown to relieve depressive symptoms. Several studies have shown that zinc levels are lower in depressed patients and another study has shown that 25 mg of zinc helped decrease depressive symptoms. Finally, magnesium is shown to support healthy cognitive function and mood. Adequate amounts of magnesium contribute to an optimal circadian rhythm which aids toward mental wellbeing.

Good Mood Food #4: Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds offer fiber, zinc, AND magnesium. As stated above, fiber aids in digestion and creates a healthy gut which aids in brain health. Plus, some evidence suggests zinc can improve depression and aid in mood regulation. Magnesium can aid in sleep health, which is crucial to overall wellbeing and mental clarity. Zinc and magnesium supplementation is often recommended for those struggling with depression and anxiety. Sesame seeds also contain omega 3s! When given the option, sprinkle some sesame seeds on top of your favorite fish.

Good Mood Food #5: Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is packed with probiotics which contributes to a healthy gut. A diverse, healthy gut leads to a healthy mind. The probiotics in yogurt can also potentially reduce anxiety. Greek yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt and is more likely to keep you fuller longer. This delicious treat is a good source of iodine and low iodine levels may contribute or anxiety and depression. On top of that, the B vitamins and calcium in yogurt can also aid in depressive symptoms. Greek yogurt is a perfect snack offering many nutrients!


An overall well balanced, healthy diet will provide the best outcomes: mentally and physically. Aside from potentially improving mood, these foods offer an abundance of vitamins and minerals to optimize your well being. What do you have to lose!?

We’re just scratching the service of potential Good Mood Foods- stay tuned for when we explore 6-10!

Check out my easy, delicious recipe that incorporates all 5 Good Mood Foods here.

This information is not individualized. Including Good Mood Foods into your diet may improve your mood, but this may not have the same effect for everyone. This evidence is in no way a substitution for individualized medical advice.

Tried including Good Mood Food 1-5 into your meal plan and have success? Let me know!-


Larrieu T, Lay S. Food for Mood: relevance of nutritional omega 3 fatty acids for depression and anxiety. Front. Physiol., 06 August 2018 |

Su K, Matsuoka Y,  Pea C. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Prevention of Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci. 2015 Aug; 13(2): 129–137.Published online 2015 Aug 31. doi: 10.9758/cpn.2015.13.2.129

Sugiyama, F. , Yamaguchi, T. , Hu, A. , Kobayashi, A. and Kobayashi, H. (2017) Effects of Fiber Supplementation for Four Weeks on Athletic Performance in Japanese College Athletes: A Case Study—Measurement of the Athletic Performance, Salivary Biomarkers of Stress, and Mood, Affect Balance. Health, 9, 556-567. doi: 10.4236/health.2017.93039.

Chao, Limin et al. “Effects of Probiotics on Depressive or Anxiety Variables in Healthy Participants Under Stress Conditions or With a Depressive or Anxiety Diagnosis: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Frontiers in neurology vol. 11 421. 22 May. 2020, doi:10.3389/fneur.2020.00421

Korn, L. Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health:a complete guide to the food-mood connection. 2016 (1): 230-241.

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